SES 5364: Sustainable Real Estate
This introductory course surveys the historical foundations, economic logics and underlying physics that underscore the design, development and operations of sustainable buildings. The recurring theme of people, place and profit is redefined within the context of user demand, asset management, site planning, building design and financial acumen. Students trace a narrative of process that begins with market analysis and conceptual design and ends with de-commissioning and recycling. Throughout the course, the central subjectivities and applications of sustainability will be challenged in order to critically evaluate aspects of social, financial, and environmental sustainability. In particular, the course seeks to understand the nature and extent to which empirical science can inform risk-adjusted business decisions. In practical terms, the course is built upon basic technical calculations ranging from material energy transfers to discount cash-flow analysis. These calculations are contextualized against building code benchmarks and exemplified through various technologies and building systems. The course includes a systematic review of various rating systems, building codes and delivery models, as well as the support systems necessary for informing investment and design decisions. At the conclusion of the course, students will have sufficient knowledge to pursue further competencies and accreditations leading to an entry-level practice in sustainable real estate management. For design students, the course defines a fundamental set of operational and economic parameters that shape design decisions and development trade-offs in commercial real estate. Students will be evaluated through the development of a business case based on programmatic requirements set forth in an RFP issued by the U.S General Services Administration (GSA). The business case will be based on an integrated design and financial strategy that includes a pre-tax investment analysis, physical plans and designs, and life-cycle projections. The course will conclude with a presentation of the business case in a format that is intended to simulate the process of making a successful bid to a GSA jury. Sustainable Real Estate is not exclusively about the efficiency of inputs and outputs of market production. It is about the design of material investments in the built environment that promote efficiency and reduce consumption in the advancement of the stability and durability of a broader range of urban ecologies.